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Swarm x SparkFun – Information

Immediately’s visitor submit will deal with the capabilities of Swarm, and Swarm’s community structure along with SparkFun.




It is a visitor weblog submit from Rohan Verma and our associates at Swarm Applied sciences. Swarm offers the world’s lowest price, international connectivity for Web of Issues units. All of this in orbit at 450-550km altitude, offering absolutely international protection.


We’re excited to introduce one of many latest additions to SparkFun’s product line, the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138! On the coronary heart of this breakout board is the Swarm M138 Modem which is a Mini-PCI Categorical (mPCIe) kind issue board consisting of a satellite tv for pc transceiver and a GNSS receiver. This weblog submit focuses on the capabilities of Swarm, and Swarm’s community structure.

Swarm Satellite Transceiver Breakout M138 close up image

The Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138 permits any person to entry the complete performance of the Swarm community through the Swarm M138 Modem. The board design features a USB-C interface for energy and/or serial knowledge, along with a full set of breakout pins which give the person entry to options such because the GPIO pin out there on the Modem. The on-board energy circuitry makes it simple to provide the M138 Modem with the facility that it must transmit message packets to house.

Example of Swarm kit

The package contains every thing wanted to begin transmitting on the Swarm community (together with a floor airplane, which is required for the VHF antenna). The breakout pins make it simple to hook up the board to a microcontroller, akin to an Arduino Professional Mini, to observe sensors and transmit knowledge from anyplace on the earth. The downlink (2-way) performance makes this Modem nice to ship configuration data again to the machine as properly with out having to bodily entry the unit.

What’s Swarm?

Swarm is a low-cost IoT satellite tv for pc connectivity supplier with one aim; To attach individuals and units anyplace, always, on the lowest price. Swarm accomplishes this by way of using sandwich sized satellites named “SpaceBEEs”.

Swarm SpaceBees communicate with M138 Modem

Swarm’s SpaceBEEs talk with their floor machine named the Swarm M138 Modem to transmit and obtain small packets of knowledge from anyplace on the earth. The Modems can transmit and obtain as much as 192 bytes of knowledge utilizing an ordinary knowledge plan of 750 packets/month. Every knowledge plan prices $5/month and is billed yearly and there aren’t any different related charges.

Overview of the Swarm Community

When a SpaceBEE passes over any given location, it’s going to ship out beacon packets to Swarm Modems which might be of their receiver state. The Modem’s antenna might want to have a transparent view of the sky, and a low RF noise setting to obtain this satellite tv for pc beacon.

Format of a satellite tv for pc beacon packet:


As soon as the Modem receives this satellite tv for pc beacon, it’s going to try to transmit any queued transmission packets to the satellite tv for pc. Message packets which might be efficiently obtained by the satellite tv for pc will then be acknowledged by the satellite tv for pc again to the Modem. The Modem will then discard the message packet from its outgoing transmission queue.

The Swarm M138 Modem can retailer a most of 1000 outgoing message packets. Every message packet is held for a default period of 48 hours, which is person configurable, after which the packet shall be discarded if not transmitted.

The satellite tv for pc will then carry that message packet till it passes over a Swarm floor station. The satellite tv for pc will downlink the message packet to the bottom station after which the information shall be routed to Swarm’s cloud platform named the Swarm Hive. The person can then view their knowledge on Hive, or extract that knowledge utilizing Swarm’s REST API, or webhooks.

How Swarm satellite sends message to cloud platform Swarm Hive

The Swarm Hive will retain knowledge for 30 days earlier than it’s discarded, so it’s best to tug that knowledge from the Hive to reference it later. Swarm has a Python Script instance that you may obtain by clicking right here.

Getting Began

Getting began with the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout is a fast and straightforward course of from getting your elements unboxed, to transmitting your first message on the Swarm community.

Unboxing of Swarm Breakout Kit and what's included

Step one is to put in the Swarm M138 Modem onto the breakout board. To do that, take away the 2 M2.5 screws from the standoffs on the board. Align the M138 Modem’s mPCIe connection pins with the breakout board’s connector and insert the Modem at an angle into the connector. As soon as the Modem’s pins are inserted into the connector, gently maintain the Modem down over the standoffs and safe it in place utilizing the 2 M2.5 screws. For finest outcomes, don’t tighten one screw absolutely earlier than inserting the opposite screw into its respective standoff.

Join the GNSS antenna to the u.FL connector labeled “GPS” on the Swarm Modem. Then join the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the u.FL connector on the Swarm Modem that’s labeled “VHF”.

SMA connector secured to breakout and antenna

Safe the SMA connector of the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the included floor airplane utilizing the washer and nut. Screw the Swarm VHF antenna onto the SMA connector whereas making certain that it’s hand-tight.

assembled Swarm Kit

For finest outcomes, place the VHF antenna and floor airplane at the least 1m above the bottom, or any strong surfaces.

Obtain and set up the SparkFun Python3 PyQt5 GUI from GitHub right here to work together with the Swarm Modem. As soon as put in, use a USB-C cable to attach the board to your pc. The board could be powered utilizing a USB-C port in your pc, or a USB 3 port. Choose the suitable COM port and check the communication interface by urgent the “Configuration Settings (CS)” button. The Modem’s Gadget ID and Title shall be displayed on the serial monitor within the format:

$CS DI=<dev_ID> ,DN=<dev_name>*xx

The subsequent step is to position the machine in an outside location with a transparent view of the sky, away from any sources of RF noise. As soon as the machine is ready up outdoor, use the “Obtain Check 1Hz (RT 1)” predefined message within the Python3 GUI to measure the background RSSI. The background RSSI measurements shall be up to date as soon as each second and signify the noise ground within the testing setting. The measured background RSSI worth must be between -95 and -105 dBm for dependable communication on the community. A decrease, extra unfavorable, worth is most popular.

The Modem will be unable to reliably talk with the satellites if the reported background RSSI worth is > -93 dBm. Attempt transferring the machine to a special testing location to look at how the measured worth modifications.

After confirming that the background RSSI is throughout the specified vary, the following step is to queue some message packets on the Modem for transmission. The quickest option to queue messages for transmission is to make use of the predefined messages within the GUI proven on the backside of the listing. The message packets shall be queued for transmission for a default maintain time of 48 hours after which they are going to be discarded if not transmitted.

The message packet maintain time is person configurable for every transmission command. Please seek advice from the Swarm M138 Modem’s Product Handbook for extra data, and for a full description of accessible instructions.

The queued transmission packets shall be transmitted when a satellite tv for pc passes over the machine’s location and beacons the Modem. The subsequent satellite tv for pc go over your location could be predicted utilizing the Swarm Satellite tv for pc Cross Checker. There may be additionally a YouTube video out there that describes the go checker’s performance in additional element out there right here.

To know if a satellite tv for pc is trying to speak with the Modem, make sure that the “Obtain Check 1Hz (RT 1)” command is enabled. Observe the serial monitor for satellite tv for pc beacons within the format:

$RT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,TS=<time>,DI=<sat_id>*xx 

The Modem will try to transmit queued message packets after receiving the satellite tv for pc beacons. Every profitable transmission shall be acknowledged by the satellite tv for pc and shall be displayed on the serial monitor within the format:

$TD SENT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,<msg_id>*xx

The transmitted knowledge packet will then be seen on the Swarm Hive shortly after transmission.

What are you constructing with the Satellite tv for pc Transceiver Breakout – Swarm M138?

We’d love to listen to from you when you’ve got been experimenting with the Swarm Community. E mail with a quick description of your challenge, and any photos that you’ve, to be featured on a future weblog submit!



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